Exploring Ethics: Self-Driving Cars

Self-Driving Cars lecture by ECE professor Mohan Trivedi at Fleet Science Center


Date: 2017-05-03
Time: 5:30p talk; 5p recep
Location: Fleet Science Center Community Forum, 1875 El Prado, San Diego 92101

Guest Speaker: Mohan Trivedi, UC San Diego
Professor, Electrical and Computer Engineering

*Registration is Required.
Host: Center for Ethics in Science and Technology


This special event featuring robotics expert and ECE professor Mohan Trivedi on self-driving cars is part of the Exploring Ethics public lecture series organized by UC San Diego's Center for Ethics in Science and Technology.

Self-driving and autonomous automobiles are here not yet on our roads, but certainly in glossy advertisements, in Internet videos, in media stories and in business boardrooms. Even President Obama felt compelled to write an op-ed editorial about self-driving vehicles not too long ago. These events are clearly exciting and gratifying to a researcher whose team has devoted the past two decades to exploring technical issues related to the realization of “intelligent” vehicles and transportation systems. Engineers and scientists engaged in the making of artificially intelligent systems have successfully resolved many challenging technical problems and have demonstrated the practical viability of autonomous driving on test tracks and carefully selected roads. These are major milestones in engineering and a clear harbinger of a transformative new era of moving goods, supplies, and people from point A to point B. Yet, along with these accomplishments come many new challenges that are not only of a technical nature, but also of a broader social, legal, and even “ethical” nature. Such issues will become more urgent and important as collisions and accidents involving self-driving or semi-autonomous vehicles occur more often –harming, injuring or even killing humans in the real world.

This presentation will highlight and raise some of these challenges from the perspective of a researcher. We will present a “Human-Centered” approach for the development of highly automated vehicle technologies. We will raise issues about the roles of technologists, manufacturers, business leaders, policy makers, regulators as well as drivers, passengers, pedestrians, and other road users who will be impacted by artificially intelligent vehicles. Innovative thinking is required not only in the making of these artificially intelligent vehicles, but also in properly framing and resolving challenging issues about the appropriate and ethically acceptable behaviors and use of these vehicles.


Mohan Trivedi is a Distinguished Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at UC San Diego and founding director of the Computer Vision and Robotics Research Laboratory, as well as the Laboratory for Intelligent and Safe Automobiles (LISA) at UC San Diego. Trivedi is also leading an interdisciplinary effort on intelligent transportation and telematics in the Qualcomm Institute (the UC San Diego division of the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology). 

Trivedi and his team are pursuing research in intelligent vehicles, autonomous/self-driving, machine perception, machine learning, human-robot interactivity,  advanced driver assistance, active safety and intelligent transportation systems. Trivedi’s team has played a key role in several major research collaborative initiatives. These include distributed video arrays for wide area activity analysis, privacy preserving filters for surveillance video arrays for transportation infrastructures including for freeways, international bridges, and stadiums; systems for vehicle collision avoidance, pedestrian protection and intent analysis, lanechange/ turn/merge assistance; vision-based systems for “smart” airbags, predictive driver intent and activity analysis systems; and panoramic-view surround safety systems and autonomous robotic teams for railway track maintenance and for hazardous environments. His team is recognized as the most prolific and most cited in the intelligent vehicles and intelligent transportation systems field.

He has won over 20 “Best/Finalist” Paper award, has received the IEEE ITS Society’s Outstanding Research Award and LEAD Institution Award as well as the Meritorious Service and Pioneer Award (Technical Activities) of the IEEE Computer Society. He has received Distinguished Alumnus awards from BITS-Pilani, India and Utah State University. He has given over 100 keynote/plenary talks and he regularly serves on panels dealing with technological, strategic, privacy, and ethical issues surrounding research areas he is involved in. He is a Fellow of IEEE, SPIE, and IAPR. Trivedi has served as the Robotics Technical Committee Chair for the IEEE Computer Society, on the Governing Boards of the IEEE Systems, Man & Cybernetics and ITSC Society, Editor-in-Chief of the Machine Vision Applications journal and charter member of the University of California System wide Digital Media Innovation (UC Discovery) program. Trivedi serves regularly as a consultant to industry and government agencies in the USA and abroad.


This event is free to the public, but the cost for these programs is substantial. If you would like to help support the Ethics Center so that we can continue to offer these programs, please contact The Center for Ethics in Science and Technology to discuss options for a tax deductible donation.

Parking instructions

There are free lots available behind the Fleet Science Center near the entrance to the Community Forum.

*Registration is Required